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Tampa Bay Fly Fishing Report - January

    Cold fronts have become something to plan trips around and usually only leave us with two to three good sight fishing days a week. Post-frontal conditions entail blue bird skies combined with a north wind and give us what we're asking for as sight fisherman. With the water temperatures dropping into the high 50's last week, it really has had a positive role on the water clarity and scaling down leader sizes has been essential to convincing fish.

    Redfish can start the day out a little moody due to the cooler temperatures but quickly put the feed bags on as the sun gets higher, increasing the temp a couple degrees. As cold-blooded critters, their appetite revolves around water temperature fluctuations. Small crab patterns tied on a number 4 or 6 has been the ticket this winter and adjusting the weight depending on depth, wind conditions, and the fishes attitude ultimately. Look for the fish to be in groups on the moon phases and on the negative low tides.

    Speckled trout have been making a showing on the flats with redfish during the cooler days but are quick to drop to deeper water as things start to warm. They are going to be concentration over hard bottom areas in preparation to spawn in the spring. Unweighted or lightly weighted flies are critical when targeting trout on the flats. Spoil islands, creek mouths, and oyster bars will have high concentrations of fish.

    Having the proper leader setup is so important during the winter months because the water is so much cleaner. With increasing fishing pressure, redfish are beginning to notice the heavier butt and mid-sections that a fly leader is made of. I find that keeping the butt section no larger than 30 pound and tapering to 12 pound plays a dramatic role. Construction of a entirely fluoro leader has an added benefit as it sinks and helps keep your crab on/near the bottom. Leaders should never be any shorter than 10 foot this time of year as most fish are in groups and distancing the fly from the fly line is imperative! If one spooks, they all do! Have fun.


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